NJPW World Pro Wrestling Immortal Fighting Spirit Tradition #162 8/25/06
3/6/91 Nagasaki, IWGP Tag Title Match: Super Strong Machine & Hiro Saito vs. Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki 19:15. A fired up Hase gave a top notch performance, showing some of the best offense in the NJPW heavyweight division, doing an excellent job of depicting how his physical condition was effecting his wrestling, and generally keeping the fans into a match they had some reason to be frustrated with. Unfortunately, Hase didn’t get that much help, as Machine & Saito seemed to specialize in killing time. Though they ultimately transitioned from there into an effective attack on Sasaki’s knee, they relied way too heavily on filler such as brawling strikes and non threatening submissions. Hase managed to make the ordinary dramatic, and eventually the other three began to wrestle with conviction. Unfortunately, this didn’t occur until Sasaki’s hot tag, which was practically the end of the match. If Machine or even Sasaki would have wrestled with more fervor, it could have been damn good, rather than merely meeting the acceptable level. ***
3/4/91 Hiroshima Sun Plaza, IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Big Van Vader vs. Tatsumi Fujinami 3:37 of 13:14. They seemed to bring their A game for this one, stepping up the pace and giving highly motivated performances. The fans bought into their emotion, as well as the high quality of the match, or at least going nuts for the finishing sequence. I enjoyed the style Fujinami employed against the Big man, vaulting his body at him with running and jumping attacks to put him down and then working for an arm submission. Fujinami’s left knee was injured before they joined the match, so Fujinami was hopping around when he ran the ropes, but Vader wasn’t attacking it anymore, as he'd moved on to his finishers. He was just using his size and strength to maul Fujinami when he could catch or corner him. Vader finally snatched Fujinami out of the air, trying to counter his diving body attack with a powerslam, but Fujinami recountered with a small package for the win. It looked like a memorable match, but most of these matches that are complete sputter and meander along and then suddenly catch fire for the final few minutes, so I’m hesitant to get too excited about a clip which only shows the portion of the match they are guaranteed to show up for.
3/14/91 Nagoya Rainbow Hall: Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Takayuki Iizuka 24:10. They did the desperate and energetic match they should have done when they met for the titles on 12/13/90. Universally better performances from all parties, with Hase being particularly excellent. Koshinaka vs. Hase was by far the best, with the longtime rivals showing excellent chemistry. Iizuka was excited to have an opponent that could actually go on the mat, and threw all his sambo techniques at Hase, while using more junior offense against Sasaki. It was the best performance I’ve seen from Iizuka in quite a while. Though the match slowed some in the middle, they were stiffer than expected to make up for it. As they picked the pace up again, the match kept looking as though it were about to end, but it continued to go back and forth for quite a while. ***3/4